Spinach Salad with Quinoa
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
This Spinach Salad with Quinoa is my favorite fall salad! It works both as a side dish and a light lunch.
You want to eat more fruits and vegetables. Right? I’m convinced they’re the key to achieving your healthiest body and feeling good.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say it’s 3pm and you’re hungry for a snack. You could eat some crackers or a muffin. Or you could munch on a fresh apple, some grapes, or raw carrot sticks, along with a handful of almonds for protein. Which is going to give you the energy boost you need? Which is going to leave you lethargic and craving more carbs? I think you know the answer.
Like you, I struggle to choose healthy fruits and vegetables over carbs and sweets. But when I do, I feel so much better.
I have a really easy way to pack more nutritious fruits and vegetables into your diet. Salads! Eat a salad for lunch and a side salad with your dinner, and you can add at least 4 cups of fruits and veggies to your day.
The trick is to make that salad so full of flavor that you can’t wait to eat it. And if it’s going to be your whole meal, make sure it has enough protein to fill you up. This Spinach Salad with apple and pecans is one of my favorite salads that can pass for both a meal and a side dish.
The quinoa adds a healthy dose of protein to this salad. I love the way that the quinoa combines with the spinach and coats the little bites of goat cheese! You can save time and make the quinoa ahead in your Instant Pot or on the stovetop following my recipe for How to Cook Quinoa. If you love quinoa, try my Southwest Quinoa Salad.
I love this spinach salad so much that I made it two days in a row for two different family gatherings. It’s packed full of delicious flavors and textures. There are sweet-tart apple slices and cranberries, creamy goat cheese, and toasted pecans. (For an extra treat try my candied pecans.)
The salad is dressed with a bright and tangy homemade honey-lemon vinaigrette and is also delicious substituting my honey mustard dressing. The quinoa absorbs some of the dressing, soaking up delicious flavor along the way. Yum!
If you like to prep your lunches ahead for the week, this salad is a great option. You can make the salad on Sunday, and then wait to add the dressing right before serving. Tossing the apples in a little bit of lemon juice will keep them from browning. Enjoy!
More Spinach Salad Recipes:
Spinach Salad with Quinoa, Apple and Pecans
For the Salad:
- ½ cup uncooked quinoa
- ½ cup raw pecans
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 large apple, thinly sliced*
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 4 ounces goat cheese
For the Dressing:
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- a bit of black pepper
- To cook the quinoa, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Rinse and drain quinoa and add it to the boiling water. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Transfer quinoa to a bowl to cool.
- Meanwhile, toast the pecans by placing them in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until fragrant, stirring often. Watch pecans carefully as they can go from toasted to burned quickly. Set aside.
- While the quinoa and pecans cool, make the dressing. Whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
- To assemble the salad, place the spinach in a large bowl. Add the cooled quinoa, apple slices, cranberries, and toasted pecans. Crumble on the goat cheese. When ready to serve the salad, toss with dressing and serve.
If you like this Spinach Salad, you’ll also enjoy:
Kale Quinoa Salad with Blueberries
Oh this is such a pretty salad, Kristine! This definitely reminds me of fall and all of the delicious flavors! Such a great idea to pair this with quinoa. I love how versatile this is!
You’re so right — eating like this is so much more satisfying and makes you feel good! Salads like this keep things exciting too. I love these flavors and the quinoa is such a great touch!
I could totally get down with making a salad this totally GORGEOUS and loaded with the good stuff my entire meal! I seriously am loving all that fall-style quinoa goodness you’ve got going on, Kristine! Need this in my lunch/dinner life today!
I love the idea of adding quinoa to salad but I’ve never tried it! What a great boost of protein, and I’m loving allllll that fruit for freshness! My hubs would love this!
I wouldn’t be able to wait to eat this every day! It looks amazing, Kristine! Salads are my favorite and I love the quinoa and apples in here!
This is my kind of salad, Kristine! Packed with goodies, all sorts of textures, something sweet, something crunchy and CHEESE! LOL. Looks delicious!
I made this healthy salad today and it was delicious. I had intended for it to be a side salad; however, the perfect balance of healthy ingredients was so good and filling all by itself that my husband and I were satisfied with only the salad. The recipe has earned a place in my notebook of favorite recipes. Thanks so much, Kristine!
THANK YOU Linda for such a thoughtful comment! I am so happy to hear that both you and your husband enjoyed this salad. I agree- it’s filling enough to be a meal!
This is the best dish I have found in a LONG time! We LOVE it. It’s become one of our favorite recipes, and will be in permanent rotation! I urge everyone to try it! YUM!
Thank you for that huge compliment, Lisle! 🙂
Loved this salad! Have made something similar but the roasted pecans and dressing really make it something special!
I did make this salad ahead of time, dividing it up for lunches and kept the dressing separate also so the spinach wouldn’t wilt. However, when I opened the dressing on the 2nd day, I was surprised to find that it had turned to a gel like texture. I assume this is due to the EVOO so I nuked it for about 15 seconds and it appeared to be fine. Do you think this is safe to eat?
Yes, the olive oil will harden in the refrigerator. It is safe to eat. Sometimes I’ll let the dressing sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes or put the dressing jar in some warm water to get it back to the liquid state. I’m glad you enjoyed this!
You really can’t get healthier than this… spinach, quinoa, apples, and pecans (my favorite). There is a boat load of nutrition in this recipe. It is a winner all the way around. Well done!
I tried the Southwestern Quinoa Salad and it is amazing. I can’t wait to try Spinach Quinoa Salad with Apples and Pecans.. Please sign me up to receive more of your great recipes.
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Can you use feta cheese instead of goat cheese?
Of course! That will be delicious.
Great easy salad to make. I’m making it again for a potluck!